Monday, June 23, 2014

A Stairway in Paris - Romance a la WEP

Anything can happen in Paris. Approach it with love, adapt to its rhythms. . .as Madeleine must do when she meets a man in an unlikely place in her new apartment building on the rue de Rivoli.

JUNE 24-26 WEP - Romance is the Challenge

A Stairway in Paris

As she pushed the eight foot doors inward in a building that would now be home, Madeleine saw the small lobby, one side faced with a huge mirror and the other painted in two neutral tones. Opening the door wider, she pulled in the two valises, pushed the door back into place and locked it. 

Before her she saw a circular stairway of low-rise stairs, but no elevator. There was nothing else to be done, but to pull them up by herself. My arms will be sore for a week, how could I not check that?

Her apartment, number 303, was leased for a year. That meant four floors up from ground level she had a small piece of Paris with wrought iron windows and a small kitchen. In some older buildings, a lobby like this one would have a small elevator which would hold two people or four suitcases, but not this one.

She started up the stairs before she heard someone coming down. She had one suitcase by the handle and the other she pulled behind. I can't stop now, I'll never make it if I do. She kept going. The footsteps came closer until a dark-haired young man came around the curve of a turn in the stairway. She glanced up surprised, hoping he would stand aside and let her pass.

"Excusez-moi . . ." he said, watching the petite young woman struggle with the two valises by herself.

"Pardon, excuse-moi, Monsieur, these cases are as heavy as they look, please let me pass."

Stunned for a moment, he let her go past before he found his voice.

"Oui, but may I assist with your valise?"


He repeated in part English, part French and pointed to her suitcase.

"Oh. Oui, merci."

Gaston carried the heavier valise and followed behind. Madeleine's arms and shoulders were starting to feel the strain when she finally arrived on the third level. I should have brought the suitcases one at a time, but it's my art tools, my work.

"This valise is heavy, too heavy for a mademoiselle."

"Perhaps, but what else can a 'poor' mademoiselle do but try?"

"Ah, you put me in place? I didn't mean it that way."

She grinned and offered a handshake, stopping halfway. "Non, certainly not. I'm Madeleine Lafitte. I appreciate the wit and your help with these bags. It's art equipment."

Bistrot Marguerite Napkin, by DG Hudson

He took her offered hand in his, but only held it, he didn't kiss it. "I am Gaston Chambord, pleased to meet you. I study art too, when I'm not working at the Bistro Marguerite*. It's not far from here."

He let go of her hand reluctantly. "I live down at the far end, number 309. We're neighbors."

"I was lucky to meet you on the stairs, thank you again." She walked to the door to see him out.

"You are welcome, Madeleine. Next time, maybe we can have coffee and talk. Au revoir."

"Oui, that would be nice. Au revoir!" I wonder why he didn't kiss my hand? I thought that always happened. . .

After Gaston left, she unpacked her tea kettle and made hot tea. She would have to look for a café in a few hours. But she couldn't stop thinking about this man she had met on the stairway. He had helped save her from a dislocated shoulder. A bit of a hero. What was the name of the place where he said he worked?

Later, she found the Bistro Marguerite as she took a walk at dusk for that purpose. Near the Hotel de Ville, this café glowed warmly on the street corner near the Seine River. She didn't see Gaston among the staff at the front, so she sat in the outside area where you could look about the evening streets. As she sat wondering if she'd be able to decipher the menu, one of the other waiters came to her table.

Bistrot Marguerite, Paris, by DG Hudson

It was not Gaston, but another waiter who spoke English well enough to help with her order. He suggested either Cod cooked the French way or Grilled Salmon. She ordered grilled herbed salmon with slivered green beans and eyed the outside décor while she waited. Her attention wandered to the Seine and the streets beside the bistro. Several couples walked by, enjoying the night and being in Paris. They looked in to see what people were eating, she looked out to see if they were tourists or locals. As if she could tell.

She had a small book to read while she sipped her wine and water. As the waiter brought her order, she looked up and saw a friendly smile.

"Madeleine, you found the Bistro Marguerite! My friend asked me to attend the young mademoiselle's order, so I help him out of course and then I see it is you. The food here is tres bon."

"This smells wonderful. I hoped you were working so I could thank you again for helping me with my luggage."

"Luggage? Ah, the valise. No problem. Coffee? Maybe a dessert, au gratis?"

"Merci, with cream, please."

"I'm glad you came by. I'd like to walk back with you, but I'm still working."

"Are you finished soon?"

"Oui, in twenty minutes."

"I could wait, I might get lost."

"Exactly. I'll bring the dessert."

The lights dimmed behind them as they left the restaurant, hand in hand. Walking slowly and stopping to admire this or that, they took an hour to cover a ten minute walk.


END of Part I, A Stairway in Paris.


*Link to 'Paris Posts' tab, on Bistros and Sidewalk cafés, including 'Bistro Marguerite'.

NOTE: It's not a good idea to address a waiter in France as garçonIt's considered a rude or derogatory expression. Address the waiter as monsieur. 


Do you take the stairs often? Have you ever had to lug your own heavy suitcases up the stairs? Are you a fan of the genre romantic story? How about a romantic tragedy?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond. PS - Writing romance is a stretch for me, so feedback is welcome. This is a side story of a work-in-progress; there will be more in a future WEP.  

Update - correction June 30th, thanks to ABFTS.


Would you like to challenge yourself? Try Write...Edit...Publish! aka WEP
Join us for a monthly signup and some very interesting reading. It's flexible. I joined the once-a-month bloghop since it meets my needs. I've also met fellow bloggers with the same penchant for responding to Denise's challenges. WEP can help you practice short writing. It's a good way to start story ideas.

Write…Edit…Publish! welcomes you to submit any of the following – flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction or playscripts to a word count of 1,000 words – artwork and photographs accompanied by your written inspiration in creating your work/s.

Next Challenge: July - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Owner/Originator: Denise Covey at her website.

For July - December 2014 Challenges:

July-December Challenges at Denise Covey's Site

Denise Covey WEP Site:


Friday, June 13, 2014

BLADE RUNNER - Then and Now Movie Blogfest

Do we change our perceptions of movies as we go through life? 

Then (1980s) and Now
June 13, 2014

Blade Runner

A near future dystopian story, this movie gave us a new kind of hero. At first, he's all business, then things start to change. Harrison Ford, as Rick Deckard is the retired special operative of the police who is called back to track down Replicants on the run. Released in 1982, this film adaptation by director Ridley Scott is based on a 1968 novel by Philip K. Dick, called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Some Replicants defy the ban on returning to Earth, and are hunted down by police operatives called 'Blade Runners'. The setting is Los Angeles in the year 2019. Film-noir techniques are used, giving the story an ominous tone. Recommended.

The film raised idealogical questions:
-who has the right to decide how long we or other entities get to exist?
-should the 'fail-safe' of an expiry date be removed from artificial intelligence which interacts with humans?
-what are the consequences of the replicants living longer lives?


There is a suggestion woven into the movie that humans might not be adverse to robotic entities that look exactly like humans. The suggestion of hunting for rogue humanoid robots seems more likely now than it would have in 1982 when Blade Runner was released.

Blade Runner could represent our future, depending on the choices we make now and in the near future. They still had ethnic food takeout, but pollution had won out in the atmosphere. This film is a favorite.


Are you a fan of Blade Runner or have you seen the movie? Any thoughts on humanoid robots? Do you know about the Cephalopod Coffeehouse? Are you in the blogfest?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond.

Thanks to the four bloggers hosting this blogfest!   

The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock. If you don't know these names, then please check those links, or the list at A. Squid's where you'll also find the other participants on this theme.

Tell us about a movie you loved when you were younger and have come to see differently over time - for better or for worse. Post on Friday, June 13th and check the list at any of the host links above. Anyone interested in joining the Cephalopod Coffeehouse,should drop by the Armchair Squid's for the June gathering on the 27th.  Details at the coffeehouse.

THE LIST to continue on to the other bloggers.
Original post for the blogfest: The Armchair Squid Wiki on the movie, Blade Runner

Monday, June 2, 2014

Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman, A Review

What is a skinwalker?

In some Native American legends, a skinwalker is a person with the supernatural ability to turn into any animal he or she desires. Most often seen as coyote, wolf, fox, eagle, owl or crow, the skinwalker is said to base the form chosen on the specific abilities needed.


Officer Jim Chee's trailer is shot three times, but misses Jim. Who is trying to kill him? Everyone, including Jim, is at a loss to explain who would want him dead. The stray cat he allowed to live under the juniper bush had warned him minutes before the shots rang out.

Three recent murders with confusing clues sit in the top file on Leaphorn's desk. Are they related? No one wants to answer questions, yet they want to discuss the connections between the dead and the living. Lieutenant Leaphorn tells Jim to start questioning the locals for leads that might turn up. Bone beads were found in two places, insidious clues pointing to witchery.

Lured to a remote area of the Navajo land, Officer Jim Chee is alone when he begins to see the connection between some of the elements of the murder. His understanding improves after being nailed by the same shotgun. . .

A NY Times Bestseller, Skinwalkers has been reprinted several times, the last reprint in 2011. Hillerman also wrote Shapeshifters. I recommend both titles if you like suspense. These are modern stories of the southwest with an element of the past.


Have you read any of Tony Hillerman's work? Are you familiar with Navajo or southwestern legends?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond.


References - Skinwalking:

Skinwalkers can be called shapeshifters, another term that describes the ability to assume other forms, generally for dark purposes. Skin-walker wiki Skinwalkers